Following his own path to success
Chris Kulcsar has never taken the traditional route in life. At age 21, when many of his peers still were learning about life through books in their dorm rooms, Kulcsar already had ridden across the country three times on Greyhound buses. He also traveled the United States and Spain as a member of several bands.
So it was no surprise that when it came time to enroll in college at age 26, he did it the nontraditional way.
Growing up, Kulcsar dreamed of having his own show on Cleveland State University’s student radio station, WCSB. To him, WCSB was one of the only radio stations to capture the Cleveland music sound, which he describes as “slightly off, with a bit of anger and disenfranchisement. [It has] a defeatist nature without giving up.”
When he applied to host a show at WCSB, the station assumed he was a CSU student. Kulcsar didn’t tell them he wasn’t. He got the show.
And he did a good job. About six months into hosting The Lee Baby Sims Show, WCSB invited him to be on its executive team. He knew the jig was up. He enrolled at CSU right away – before the station found out his secret – and went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree by his goal-age of 30.
One of Kulcsar’s earliest memories of music impacting his life was listening to Beatles records with his parents. In 1992, before graduating from Euclid High School, he played his first gig. From then on, he played with different bands in Cleveland’s music venues, recognizing that the city has its own genre of music and performers who aren’t seeking fame or fortune.
“No one starts a band in Cleveland thinking they are going to be famous,” he says. “They do it because they love it. They do it for themselves and their friends and because they have something to say.”
He says his greatest musical achievement was putting out a record called “Public Square” with the band This Moment in Black History, comprised mostly of CSU alumni. Kulcsar, a white guy, was the lead singer.
At CSU, Kulcsar learned to use his music to make sound art, which allows people to participate in an art piece by listening to it in various ways. During one exhibition in which he garnered a best in show award at CSU, he wrote his own obituary as an artist statement – prompting Scene Magazine to write an article saying that he had died. Phoning his mother to explain the “joke” was not fun.
Following graduation, Kulcsar got a job as an art handler, which eventually took him to Brooklyn, NY, where he hung expensive art for wealthy buyers. It was a job he loved because he got to touch art and be close to great masterpieces in a way most people don’t experience.
Now back in Cleveland and engaged to be married, Kulcsar is working as a social worker, helping homeless families reunite and get back on their feet. But music and art are never far from his mind. On the eve of turning 40, he’s contemplating new approaches to music that will allow him to keep pursuing his lifelong passion.